It’s rivalry night in Detroit, as the Toronto Maple Leafs and Detroit Red Wings meet for the first time since the Centennial Classic in Toronto at the BMO Centre. The Wings and Leafs played in an instant classic on New Years, with the Maple Leafs ultimately surviving with a 5-4 win in overtime. This wasn’t before they blew a 4-1 lead in the 3rd period, including the Wings scoring with only about 1 second left on the clock. The Leafs shook it off and Auston Matthews took care of the rest with a nifty flip into the net. Toronto will look to do it all over again on a smaller stage at the Joe Louis Arena.
If anything, the reshuffling of the divisions really leads to some more fun between the Leafs and Wings. In what was only a one or two game affair before, the Leafs and Wings are meeting much more often. Another difference that has been taking shape, is that the Wings look to be trending down, while the Maple Leafs are trending up. Perhaps more than any other team in the NHL, the sky is the limit for this Leafs team. If management plays their cards right, which I would bet they do, the Leafs are going to be in for strong, deep runs in the postseason. Don’t laugh, just wait.
The Red Wings are clinging on for dear life to keep their playoff streak alive. This dates all the way back to the early 1990’s, but they’re going to need some good fortunes to find a way in. The Wings are currently 20-19-9 on the season and will need to put in the work to improve on that. Most likely, their streak is going to come to an end. Pavel Datsyuk was up there in age, but he would have certainly helped this team.
They would have at least been flirting with the playoffs, I believe. A win over the Leafs is always nice, though. Toronto enters with a solid record of 22-14-3. There are so many teams on the fringe, and the Leafs are one of those teams whose playoff destiny is going to come down to the last month of the season. It’s always a great environment when the Maple Leafs and Red Wings meet up. Let’s find a winning pick out of this classic Original 6 showdown.
The Maple Leafs are coming in with four wins in their last six games. They have wins over Rangers, Senators, Sabres, and Flames. Their lone loss came in a shootout against the Sens. The Leafs gave up a late goal and weren’t able to capitalize in the overtime frame or the shootout. Mitch Marner had the play of the year, though, dazzling in the shootout with a move that will be replayed into the foreseeable future. The Maple Leafs took the L, though, so it unfortunately didn’t amount to much other than a highlight reel move. The Leafs are scoring, though, led by a young talented core. Toronto are 6th in the NHL with 3.09 goals per game. In their last ten games they’ve scored a whopping 3.70 goals a game.
Note that the Leafs have gotten better on defence since the opening of the year, but they are still trying to improve. It’s going to be necessary if they want to evolve to the next stage of their rebuilding process. While they netted 3.70 goals per game in their last ten games, they also allowed 3.10 goals per game. Same for the Red Wings, who allowed 3.10 goals a game in their last ten as well. The Wings are allowing 2.92 goals per game overall, which is 24th in the NHL. They certainly do miss the dual-threat Pavel Datsyuk on offence and defence. We expect some goal scoring to continue tonight. The play for Wednesday night is on the OVER.
PICK: OVER 5.5 GOALS (-110)